OpenOffice format is no accelerator

Bristol council’s press office claims a bit of positive PR by announcing it has joined the Open Document Format (ie OpenOffice to you and me) Alliance. But if they really believe, as they claim in their press release:

The move is expected to make it easier to share documents in different formats and avoid the frustrating ‘can’t open yours’ culture, which slows down work.

– they’re in for a shock. OpenOffice is my tool of choice at home, and even though I’m an open-source believer with a clean conscience, we are a million miles away from ODF getting wide acceptance or recognition.

When I write a document on behalf of my current (government) employer, in OpenOffice, I invariably end up circulating it as a Word document – mainly because they’re using an ancient version of Acrobat which can’t read OpenOffice’s PDFs. I have to export my work as .doc, then load it into Microsoft’s free Word viewer to see how it comes out, then through trial and error, go back into OpenOffice to fix anything which didn’t quite work.

But I’d rather endure this whole rigmarole than use pirated software, that’s for sure. (Please take note, Mr Windows Genuine Advantage.) Is ODF helping me work faster? Don’t make me laugh.